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Sarah Bush Johnston photograph
09-02-2017, 10:41 PM
Post: #1
Sarah Bush Johnston photograph
I was wondering if anybody had any information on the history of the more well-known Sarah Bush Johnston photograph. I have a link to the image of it here, so you know which photo I'm talking about:

https://www.lincolncollection.org/discov...item=37250

I know it's a copy of an apparently lost original. If I remember correctly, it was a member of the Johnston family who brought the photo to public attention. Does anybody know which Johnston that was? Also, have there been any attempts to date the image based on clothing, etc; or try and make educated guesses as to what kind of photograph the original was; or try and figure out approximately when the copy was made?
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09-03-2017, 05:20 AM
Post: #2
RE: Sarah Bush Johnston photograph
I believe the photo came from Sarah Bush Johnston Lincoln's granddaughter, Mrs. Harriet Chapman. I believe she gave a copy of the photo to William Herndon. The last I know is that the original was in Harriet Chapman's possession; I have no idea where it is today. Possibly lost to history? A good guess as to when the photo was taken is c.1865. Harriet Chapman sent a copy to Herndon in 1866.

Recently a second photo of Sarah Bush Johnston Lincoln has apparently been discovered. Ed Steers included it on p. 62 of Lincoln Slept Here - Abraham Lincoln's Kentucky and Indiana Years 1809-1830. This photo is an original, not a copy.

http://jg-tc.com/news/only-known-origina...39251.html
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09-03-2017, 06:57 AM
Post: #3
RE: Sarah Bush Johnston photograph
This is the first time I have seen the second photo.
I'm not quite convinced.
Has the Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association or other Lincoln publications commented on the newly discovered photo?

So when is this "Old Enough To Know Better" supposed to kick in?
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09-03-2017, 06:24 PM
Post: #4
RE: Sarah Bush Johnston photograph
(09-03-2017 06:57 AM)Gene C Wrote:  This is the first time I have seen the second photo.
I'm not quite convinced.
Has the Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association or other Lincoln publications commented on the newly discovered photo?

Gene, here's a link on the supposed Sarah Bush Johnson photo. It's tiny in size, about 2 by 3 inches with an inscription on the back. I enlarged it a bit, and to me the lady doesn't look anything like the single known photo of Sarah Bush Johnson Lincoln, especially the eyes.

http://144.208.79.222/~abraha21/alo/linc...tepmom.htm


Cliff
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09-04-2017, 04:11 PM
Post: #5
RE: Sarah Bush Johnston photograph
I just have to point something out, the new photo of Sarah had an inscription on the back which read:

Sally Bush - Abraham Lincoln's Stepmother - Thomas Lincoln's second wife

According to the article the use of the nickname "Sally" is used as evidence of authenticity even though the history of the photograph before 1968 is unknown. They feel use of the nickname is an indication that a family member wrote the inscription. But the use of the name "Sally" for Lincoln's stepmother was not unknown in literature before than.

It was used by Nicolay in 1902:
https://books.google.com/books?id=8q6z_T...22&f=false

and Louis Warren in 1926:
https://books.google.com/books?id=iRlCAA...hDoAQhBMAU

and in magazine articles from the 1930's:
https://books.google.com/books?id=nIPRAA...hDoAQhUMAk

and in plays:
https://books.google.com/books?id=usnfAA...BDoAQgtMAI

So the inscription could've been written by any Lincoln enthusiast prior to 1968. It also doesn't read like it was written by an immediate family member.
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09-04-2017, 04:50 PM
Post: #6
RE: Sarah Bush Johnston photograph
My question - would close family members have needed nor "applied" such lengthy further (less close sounding) inscription - "Abraham Lincoln's Stepmother - Thomas Lincoln's second wife"? (I am not familiar with 19th century inscriptions, but the ones on the old family photos I inherited simply read "uncle Hugo and Christel" and the like.)
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09-04-2017, 06:49 PM
Post: #7
RE: Sarah Bush Johnston photograph
It is a little longer than inscriptions usually are, but that could be explained away as being written years by family members years after Sarah's death with the special historical circumstances/significance of the Lincoln Presidency in mind. But if that were so, it's odd that it wouldn't mention the Daniel Johnston marriage. While I guess it wouldn't be as important to historians and Lincoln enthusiasts, it would be important to the Johnston family members who presumably would have inherited the photo and used the inscription to record family history.
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09-05-2017, 05:12 AM
Post: #8
RE: Sarah Bush Johnston photograph
Reference to Sarah Bush Johnston Lincoln being called "Sally" is even in Herndon's Informants. For example, in an August 1, 1865, letter from John B. Helm to William Herndon it says:

"It is also plain that old Tom Lincoln had courted Sally Bush before she married Johnson and failed to get her — that Sally Bush and Johnson had had a number of children...It also appears that not long after this Sally Bush then the widdow Johnson was lawfully married to Tom Lincoln and Abe was received into her family as a step son — This is a new era in Abe Lincolns life."

IMO, using the nickname of Sally for Sarah was common. I have also seen reference to Sarah Lincoln Grigsby, Abraham's sister, being called Sally.
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09-05-2017, 06:10 PM
Post: #9
RE: Sarah Bush Johnston photograph
And as for "Abe" it seems it's especially those call him that who know him the least.
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09-05-2017, 07:36 PM
Post: #10
RE: Sarah Bush Johnston photograph
Without a provenance and with the inscription being useless as evidence for the new photo's authenticity the only option for verifying it as Sarah would be a forensic visual comparison of the newly found photo with the authenticated photo.

Just by looking at the photos, it seems like Sarah might have a slightly rounder head shape than the woman in the new photo but I suppose that could be an illusion caused by Sarah's bonnet. You also have to take into account the photo of Sarah is a copy from the original with some features slightly "retouched". I don't think the online images of the photos have a high enough resolution to really compare the womens' features myself, so I'll just put myself down as neutral/inconclusive on that question for now.

If they do a forensic comparison of the photos, just be forewarned there is a cottage industry of "experts" that will authenticate a photographic image as somebody with just the slimmest of evidence, ignoring the larger pile of evidence against it.
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09-06-2017, 05:04 AM
Post: #11
RE: Sarah Bush Johnston photograph
Ed Steers, Chuck Hand, and Wayne Temple are very well-known and well-respected in the Lincoln community. If those folks say it's Sarah Lincoln then I am leaning to be a believer. However, there are other opinions I'd love to know. Among these people would be James Cornelius, the Lincoln Curator at the ALPLM. Also, Sam Wheeler, State Historian. I'd also be curious what Tom Schwartz thinks, although he no longer works in Illinois. And there are others, too numerous to name, including members of this forum who have not yet posted an opinion.

In Ed Steers' book the two photos are both on the same page next to each other. My eyes are definitely aging, but to me, it looks like the two images are probably (definitely not 100% sure) the same woman. There is sure a close resemblance, but I am not a photograph expert by any means.
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09-06-2017, 08:29 AM
Post: #12
RE: Sarah Bush Johnston photograph
They do look very similar to me, too, just of/at different age. Also you could likewise ask- what is the authentication of the well-known one?
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09-06-2017, 08:50 AM
Post: #13
RE: Sarah Bush Johnston photograph
(09-06-2017 08:29 AM)Eva Elisabeth Wrote:  They do look very similar to me, too, just of/at different age. Also you could likewise ask- what is the authentication of the well-known one?

Eva, I think it's considered authentic because it came from a family member. Sarah Bush Johnston Lincoln's granddaughter, Harriet Chapman, gave a copy of the image to Herndon. I cannot recall where I read it (possibly information in Ida Tarbell's writings), but I think I read that the original was still in the possession of Harriet Chapman until the 1890s, and no one knows where it is now (or if it even exists).
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09-06-2017, 11:39 AM
Post: #14
RE: Sarah Bush Johnston photograph
I am with Steve on this.
the lack of provenance is significant.

I would need to see an improved image of the more recently discovered photo to make an untrained comparison and opinion.
The differences in facial features can be attributed to changes in age, weight and especially health. Poor health can really change a person's appearance. Her face appears to me to be longer and thinner in most recently discovered photo.

Give me another 20 years, a bonnet, a little eye shadow, a loose fitting dress, slightly out of focus image and I might look like Sarah/Sally.
Smile

So when is this "Old Enough To Know Better" supposed to kick in?
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